NOW UNDERGOING trials in Japan is a lightweight freight electric multiple-unit. Developed by JR Freight, the M250 is intended to compete against road haulage for high-value freight moving between Tokyo and Osaka. If successful, the train will join JR Freight’s loco-hauled container trains on the 1067mm gauge conventional Tokaido main line.

By distributing power over four vehicles, JR Freight has reduced the axleload of the FEMU compared with a locomotive of equivalent power - nominal rating for the train is 3250 kW.

A pair of powered vehicles is marshalled at each end of the train. Each of these is designed to carry a 9·4m container loaded between two equipment modules. The leading module on the Mc250 vehicle includes a cab and houses train control and automatic train protection equipment; it also carries the leading pantograph for the 1·5 kV DC power supply. The second module carries the main traction equipment, including a variable-voltage, variable-frequency inverter for the three-phase asynchronous traction motors. Further equipment is carried in the two modules of the M251 vehicle immediately behind the Mc250, and the rear module of the M251 carries a second pantograph. A variable number of T260 and T261 platform wagons, each able to carry a pair of 9·4m containers, is marshalled ahead of the M251 and Mc250 powered cars at the rear.

Marketed as Super Rail Cargo, the M250 will be used to offer overnight transits between the Japanese capital and the country’s second largest city. Apart from winning acceptance from the market, the FEMU may also face a significant challenge in securing paths from JR Central which runs overnight sleeping car trains on the Tokaido main line.

CAPTION: The M250 is formed of a rake of container flat wagons, with two powered vehicles at each end